Our nation is big; I know that, it is around 3,000 miles across. I know that in that vast area there are many different views of life and styles of living. I am aware that many people in one region do not completely agree with many people from another distant region in our nation. The majority of the time I do not think about how different people are within the United States, but Easy Rider gladly reminded me of this fact that I seem to push to the back of my mind sometimes. The film was a rude reminder of how harsh reality can be within even one nation. The counter culture movement was not long ago, it is doubtful that the nation has changed that much in 40 years.
Considering how recently this all took place, it seems very likely that many of these themes still exist today. There is still a large misunderstanding among groups of people today, many people don’t want to learn about what is different from what they know and have been taught. I think this is the most dominant theme found within the movie. If people don’t understand each other then often times it leads to disagreement, not discussion. In a small town, assumed to be southern, the three main characters stop in a small restaurant and receive no service. The local people eating there look them up and down; the young girls are interested to know more while the older men of the town decide that they are trouble. In the middle of the night the older men find the characters’ campsite and beat Jack Nicholson’s character to death. This is one of the most obvious examples of a hate crime. The men of the town did not identify with the new ideas associated with those men passing through and instead of trying to understand or just leaving them alone, they choose to beat them all and even murder one of them.
At the end, two other men riding in a truck down a road shoot the remaining two characters. It appears as though the man who fired the gun did not mean to kill Billy (Denis Hopper), they even turn around once they realize he was actually hurt. On the way back to see him they shoot Wyatt (Henry Fonda), at first I was a little dumbstruck. Maybe they shoot Wyatt because he has seen what they have done to Billy. It is another example of misunderstanding between people and their ideas that happens all across the nation. My only hope is that maybe we have made some strides toward learning more about what we do not know or understand, I believe this would be the best way for these differences to be mended.